The Trudeau government's push to eliminate plastic waste by 2030, particularly by targeting plastic food packaging, is drawing criticism for its potential impact on fruit and vegetable waste and consumer costs. A study from the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) indicates that the proposed reduction in plastic packaging could lead to a substantial increase of 495,000 tonnes in food loss and waste, resulting in financial losses valued at $3.4 billion. These elevated costs could potentially be transferred to consumers, possibly reaching up to a 30 percent increase.
While the government's commitment to a "Zero Plastic Waste by 2030" initiative aims to address environmental concerns, critics argue that Canada does not have a significant plastic waste problem. Less than 1 percent of plastics used in the country end up as waste in the environment, with 99 percent being effectively managed through landfill, recycling, or incineration. This challenges the necessity of an aggressive anti-plastic campaign that could inadvertently result in greater waste of alternative materials, notably wood and paper products.
The proposed war on plastics is raising environmental concerns, particularly regarding deforestation and its impact on tree populations. Nicole Rycroft, founder of Canopy, a forest conservation NGO, emphasizes the need to shift away from plastics but warns against replacing plastic pollution with deforestation and forest degradation. Rycroft points out that over three billion trees, including old-growth and endangered ones, are felled annually for paper-based products like bags, straws, and food containers.
Critics argue that the "Zero Plastic Waste" agenda may be an unsound policy, with potential economic repercussions and adverse environmental consequences. The costs associated with this approach are perceived to outweigh the benefits, particularly as it may lead to increased consumption of wood and paper products, contributing to deforestation. Calls for a reassessment of the government's strategy highlight the need for an environmentally responsible and economically viable approach that considers the well-being of Canadian families and the food sector.